Space to Fill
Warning: what you are about to read is not clever. It has not been edited for treacle, banality or minutia. I am pretty sure I am over-telling and under-showing. It is Thanksgiving morning 2014 and I need a dose of raw, unfiltered gratitude. Stat.
I am thankful that my husband is healthy. Eight months ago he was having major surgery. Last night, he was trying to make brussel sprouts tastes less like cabbage.
I am thankful for our two sons who are kind, confident and passionate. Do you want me to tell you more about them? I have time. Do you want to see pictures of them? I downloaded several hundred off of facebook just last night. I love being their mom.
I am thankful I am safe, have a dry place to live, enough food, and warm clothes. I never take these things for granted.
Today I am waking up with just two people in the house, one is still sleeping and one is typing. This is the first time my husband and I have been alone for a big holiday since . . . ever. It just happened. One of our boys is staying home and attending a “Friendsgiving.” The other is studying abroad. Friends and family can’t make the trip or are coming for Christmas instead. Several plans shifted at the last minute, and subsequently, my husband and I are here and everyone we typically host is somewhere else. We do have an invite for dinner, but we will not have the usual tumult of out-of-town guests, board games and traditional recipes. There is no turkey brining in a black garbage bag on our stoop. No stack of pies. No anticipation of someone squirting soda through their nose in response to mass hilarity.
I am thankful for all the extended family who do not necessarily get us, but love us anyway.
I am thankful for all my friends who listen to me and assure me that I am great, guiding me back to some version of great when I am being ridiculous.
I am thankful that I have interesting work that keeps my busy brain busy.
I enjoy our empty nest, but I have been dreading the quiet today. It is certainly not a unique situation compared to others’ experiences, but it is a transitional moment for me and I have been vacillating between blue and cross for days. I sense I let something slip or dropped a ball that was always lobbed in my direction without much effort. I should have done something, rounded up some people. I have been distracted lately and not paying attention. So here I am, feeling very sorry for myself.
I am thankful for all my beautiful dishes, for fabric and yarn, for my new purple bicycle.
I am thankful for passages from books that I remember as if I actually had the very same adventure or idea or had lunch with Fern, or Seymour, or Harry, or ee just yesterday.
I am thankful I have curly hair as an excuse to never use a blow dryer or a brush.
The antidote seems obvious, but I have to remind myself. It is Thanksgiving morning after all, the possibilities dawn slowly. I let my mind drift to what makes my life meaningful. The practice of gratitude is immediate and powerful.
I am thankful for my pink unicorn head pencil sharpener, for my stained glass angel, for all the propped up thank you/mother’s day/birthday cards, for printed photographs, for accumulating bags of Christmas presents, for CDs of Shaker music, for my stapler that never jams, for a calendar from the college my son attends.
Each token holds a story I share with another person. The unsettled yearning begins to ease. How can I feel alone when I am surrounded? Once I begin a gratitude list it is hard to stop. I realize that everything I have is a gift given by miracle, good fortune or the brilliance and generosity of others. In the book A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sarah Crewe comes back to her cold, grey attic room one night to discover it has been unexpectedly transformed into a warm, bright, comforting haven. She wraps herself in a soft robe she has never seen before and marvels at the mystery. This is what happens to me when I start looking around my world. I am dazzled by how much and how colorful and how interesting it all is and cannot imagine how I could ever perceive life to be anything but utterly magical. With or without an entourage.
I am thankful for today.
I warned you. Gratitude is not tidy. It cannot be held to word count or captured in a metaphor or explained as an exact process. It simply notices “what is” rather than “what else.” This strange day has opened a space for me to wonder, and in wondering, the space is now brimming.